The verb “to be”

picTobie Nathan in Médicins et sorciers (1996) explains that both psychopharmacology and psychoanalysis tend to solder the person with the symptoms. By doing so, the person is separated from the community and the environment. When a person in at one with his or her symptom, he or she is no longer ‘normal’, is separated from the family members and become an “object for experts” (doctors) who claim their possession of that person. 

Steve De Shazer, SFBT therapist, talks about the role of grammar in how we understand the reality: “He is schizophrenic, the rose is red: he = schizophrenic, rose # red.” The grammar of the second sentence is different from the first sentence, the verb here links two different things, the rose and the red color, they are linked but not the same, as other roses may be yellow, white, etc.

But when we say “he is schizophrenic, she is an anorexic” we are using the verb “to be” to reinforce an idea of permanent state. “The ‘cure’ for anorexia involves a lifelong fight against anorexia that ‘proves’ that the ‘is’ does indeed stand for the equal sign: she = anorexic. Thus, while starving herself (suffering from anorexia), anorexia is the problem. After the ‘cure’, anorexia remains the problem in the form of ‘anti-anorexia’. (In Logic, as Wittgenstein pointed out, the ‘p’ in the statements ‘p’ and ‘not-p’ must stand for the same thing.) (More than miracles, page 138)

For several thousands years, Buddhist philosophy has shown that the person is one with others, the community and the environment, that there is no separation from person and circumstances. This idea empowers us, it gives us the freedom to change.

The way we communicate, the way we use the language, reflects our current way of living, which in turn shows our incomplete vision of phenomena. By talking and thinking words, we lose our power.



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